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I am trying to repair my sister's computer. It is a Dell Inspiron 6000. It is running Windows XP, and I believe has service pack 3 installed. She has sent me the machine to examine. She has been using this computer for several years and thus has a large amount of data on it. When I log in to her account, I am presented with what is essentially a freshly installed Windows. None of her personal settings are apparent. There are none of her files in her "My Documents" folder.

When I first got the machine, her 60 GB drive was effectively full. There was, perhaps, 12 MB free. I suspect this may have been a cause of the problem. I installed the drive from the computer in an external adapter and using my Ubuntu machine removed about 30 GB of data. So the drive now has ~30 GB free.

When I log in, it seems to take an excessive time to load her settings -- around 90 seconds. But of course there are none of her settings there. Also when I log in, it appears to not have the drivers for something. It runs the "Found New Hardware" wizard.

What I find most interesting about this problem is found in the "Documents and Settings" folder. For this example, I'll pretend her User name is "Doug". There is a folder labeled "Doug." (with the period after it). This folder contains all of her data that I would expect. There is also a folder labeled "Doug._Doug" (with the period and the underscore). And this I find confusing -- why is this extra folder here?

I am requesting help in restoring her system to as it was before, such that when she logs in she sees her person settings and files. I would prefer to not run the WindowsXP repair function if possible...

Any help or insight appreciated.

Thank you.

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I wonder if the PC was upgraded at any time...support.microsoft.com/kb/312942 –  Moab Sep 20 '10 at 18:19

2 Answers 2

Looks like you may just need to migrate all her settings to a new user profile. MS has an article on how to do it here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/811151/

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This is a long shot, but you could try the following:

EDIT: I notice this is very similar to the other answer suggested, but I had not seen KB 811151 before I wrote this.

  • Create a new user with admin privileges on the machine.

  • Log in with that admin user (make sure you've logged out of the other account).

  • Rename the Doug. and Doug._Doug folders to something else (keep track of the larger folder, as this is most likely your sister's actual data).

  • Delete the Doug account and recreate it, making sure it has the same name. You will not be prompted to save the user's data because the folder has been renamed in the previous step.

  • Log in to the new Doug account to get Windows to create the profile and folders.

  • Log out of the new Doug account once the profile has been created.

  • Move or copy all of the files from the larger of the renamed folders into the C:\Documents and Settings\Doug folder which has just been created.

  • Log back into the Doug account, and all her stuff should be there.

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This solution did work. After I used this, I received another hard drive from a colleague and re-installed Windows XP on the bigger system. Thanks for your help. –  Seth Oct 18 '10 at 23:28

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